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Give no respect, get no respect

Why are the police losing face all over the place, but especially in Ferguson? Because they despise the communities in which they work, and go out of their way to express their contempt. By finding new uses for police dogs, for instance.

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What happened next, according to several sources, was emblematic of what has inflamed the city of Ferguson, Missouri, ever since the unarmed 18-year-old was gunned down: An officer on the street let the dog he was controlling urinate on the memorial site.

The incident was related to me separately by three state and local officials who worked with the community in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. One confirmed that he interviewed an eyewitness, a young woman, and pressed her on what exactly she saw. "She said that the officer just let the dog pee on it," that official told me. "She was very distraught about it." The identity of the officer who handled the dog and the agency he was with remain unclear.

The day brought other indignities for Brown’s family, and the community. Missouri state Rep. Sharon Pace, whose district includes the neighborhood where the shooting occurred, told me she went to the scene that afternoon to comfort the parents, who were blocked by police from approaching their son’s body. Pace purchased some tea lights for the family, and around 7 p.m. she joined Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, and others as they placed the candles and sprinkled flowers on the ground where Brown had died. "They spelled out his initials with rose petals over the bloodstains," Pace recalled.

By then, police had prohibited all vehicles from entering Canfield Drive except for their own. Soon the candles and flowers had been smashed, after police drove over them.

There’s no hope at all that those officers can ever again get the cooperation of their community. Fire the lot of them.

Comments

  1. says

    Not just fire, but blacklist; none of them should ever work in law enforcement or security in any capacity whatsoever, ever again. Any such agency that employs any of them should be subject to an immediate probe by the Federal DOJ, and face dissolution under the same conditions if the slightest irregularities are found.

  2. Pteryxx says

    …I wouldn’t trust these officers to serve food. Anyone with that level of contempt for the public can’t be trusted to interact with the public.

  3. Athywren says

    Fucking hell… it’s like they think they’re rival gangs or something. What the hell is wrong with American police? I know it’s not all of them, but come on… how can professional officers or the peace even think of acting this way? Let alone actually feel comfortable enough in the support of their fellow officers that they’d do it?

  4. says

    An officer on the street let the dog he was controlling urinate on the memorial site.

    By then, police had prohibited all vehicles from entering Canfield Drive except for their own. Soon the candles and flowers had been smashed, after police drove over them.

    No words, towering rage.

    Protect and Serve, eh? :spits:

  5. frankb says

    As one Senator said during Watergate waiting for the other shoe to fall, “I don’t know how many more shoes there are to fall. I feel like I have been dealing with a centipede.” The incidents keep piling up.

  6. Callinectes says

    These ones do seem like bastards. But I watched a mini documentary about stop and frisk in New York, and they interviewed regular friskees and got that side, exactly the crap you’d expect. But they also had cops, identity protected, who said how much they hated it all, but would be penalised if they didn’t stop enough, frisk enough, even arrest enough people a month. Disciplinary action that included being disregarded for promotion, and being stationed the most dangerous areas of the city, alone. And literally everyone above them is breathing down their neck, because their superiors all the way up to the Mayor benefit from getting those numbers.

    And I have to wonder now, knowing as I do that most cops join up because they want to do good, how many are genuine pricks and how many are being forced by the higher-ups to choose between basic decency and their career.

  7. says

    frankb:

    The incidents keep piling up.

    I think it’s past time to stop using the word incident and start using the right one: crime. If Random J. Person allowed a dog to piss all over a memorial, then drove over and smashed a good portion of the memorial, they’d no doubt find themselves arrested for vandalism.

  8. Callinectes says

    In case I wasn’t clear, the “crap” I mentioned was their experiences with stop and frisk, not an aspersion on their recounting of it.

  9. says

    Callinectes:

    And I have to wonder now, knowing as I do that most cops join up because they want to do good, how many are genuine pricks and how many are being forced by the higher-ups to choose between basic decency and their career.

    Here’s an example of decent people doing the right thing: http://libcom.org/news/hands-dont-ship-minneapolis-ups-workers-protest-shipments-missouri-police-27082014

    In the past, decent people who happened to be cops helped to expose and stop corruption in police forces. If most cops are decent people, they have the power to change things.

  10. anbheal says

    @8 and @9 — there is a great deal of recruiting among urban and suburban police department specifically targeting the dumb and angry. They are more malleable, question authority less, demand less in terms of wages and benefits, get bored less, and stay on the job longer. Your “if most cops” is a big if, in many communities. I have seen the cops in my own city and state evolve from no-nonsense community protecters into ‘roid-rage bullies over the past 20 years. Examine the way you were treated when pulled over for a speeding ticket in the 80s, versus now. It seems that the “Code” is now to bully the fuck out of every person you encounter. I even see it in doggie parks, if someone has the audacity to toss their retriever a ball when the sign says on-leash; the cop doesn’t point to the sign and say “dogs gotta be on-leash here, ma’am, but there’s an offleash park 3 blocks from here”, but instead they thrust their chest out and bellow and start writing a ticket, and if the person protests, the cop screams that they’re now getting an additional $200 fine for talking back. It’s appalling.

    As for Ferguson, it seems that a lot of their behavior falls under the Hate Crime rubric, and should be prosecuted accordingly. And, yeah, as PZ says, fire every last one of them, top to bottom, and start with a new cadre of cadets and some leadership imported from civilization.

  11. says

    I agree. Police activities that violate the social contract are crimes and should be treated as such. Perhaps we should be able to perform citizens arrests on cops that are misbehaving.

    That reasoning is EXACTLY why they are militarizing.

  12. Christopher says

    there is a great deal of recruiting among urban and suburban police department specifically targeting the dumb and angry. They are more malleable, question authority less, demand less in terms of wages and benefits, get bored less, and stay on the job longer. Your “if most cops” is a big if, in many communities.

    Police departments make sure to not hire anyone with a high IQ.

    The courts have blessed this decision.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/too-smart-to-be-a-cop/

    Our new Police State is the result.

  13. Menyambal says

    The original incident was supposedly triggered by Michael Brown blocking traffic by walking in the middle of the street. The police blocked that street for five hours with his body in the middle of it, then blocked it later to prevent memorials, then went out in the main street and blocked that with their police riot for big parts of the next two weeks.

    I say supposedly up there because black kids tend to walk in the street more, in my experience. Safely, and not blocking traffic, mind, but enough for the cop to be really hassling them for being black.

  14. Gregory Greenwood says

    It is ever increasingly true that the worst criminals in the US by far are the ones wearing uniforms. The sheer level of contempt and hatred they show for the very people they swore and oath to protect is nothing short of terrifying.

  15. says

    I just cannot believe any human beings would be so callous, so hateful, so disregarding of the basics of civilized behavior. Much less how these people could possibly have been hired as peace officers. It is so far beyond the pale.

  16. says

    Gregory:

    The sheer level of contempt and hatred they show for the very people they swore and oath to protect is nothing short of terrifying.

    Yeah. I don’t think there’s a word for that depth of contempt.

  17. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    One of those AHA moments, when the mason who has done a lot of good work on Casa la Pelirroja, and happens to be heavier on the melanin than me, complained about dogs. A lot of folks in town walk their dogs. On a leash, using the sidewalk as the center. And they do “sic” their dogs on those darker than themselves….

  18. Pteryxx says

    Callinectes #6:

    But they also had cops, identity protected, who said how much they hated it all, but would be penalised if they didn’t stop enough, frisk enough, even arrest enough people a month. Disciplinary action that included being disregarded for promotion, and being stationed the most dangerous areas of the city, alone.

    I don’t disagree with you. But. We’re not talking about merely hitting a quota for frisks and arrests, or even having to produce more arrests than the next cop. (Which is already bad enough – see Comcast customer service – and suspiciously race-biased, let’s not forget.) We’re talking about active, blatant, public acts of disrespect towards the people these police have to deal with.

    How many times do these decent cops have to help beat or taze an unresisting suspect to be safe from the retaliation of their peers? How much yelling of slurs must they do for their co-workers not to call them weak or untrustworthy? How much paperwork do they need to fudge, how many guns must they plant, how many cameras must they disable or conveniently evade, just to keep their jobs in a work culture this toxic? Keep in mind, Ferguson doesn’t have a huge impersonal police force. The Ferguson police department has 50 or 53 officers total, depending on how they’re counted. Everyone can know everyone else in a group that size. Where’s the quota for how much hate they have to go along with in order to keep their jobs?

    I’m sure there are cops in St Louis who hate having to go along with this. Here’s one: (BBC link) But however much they hate it, unless they outright quit their jobs, they’re still there, swimming in the toxic culture. I’m not going to say none of them are decent people. Some of them would probably be great cops, in a department that encourages accountability and doesn’t tolerate bigoted BS (where would that department be, I wonder). But at this point, I think any former police officer from Ferguson would have to earn back the trust afforded to basically decent people. (Like Darren Wilson and his former colleagues probably should have.)

  19. says

    The location in my brain where “cops” resides is getting closer to the address for “bandits who repeatedly terrorize villagers.”

  20. magistramarla says

    Nerd @ 17
    It’s an aha moment for me, too. My mobility dog looks exactly like the dog in the picture. Folks with more melanin tend to go the other direction from him, even though he is the friendliest dog ever.
    I’ve noticed that this happens much more often since we’ve moved back to Texas. When we lived near San Francisco, all sorts of people would walk up to us, ask to pet him and tell me stories about a German Shepherd in their lives.
    Coastal California seems to be a dog-loving culture, and we were much more comfortable there.

  21. thinkingman says

    Is it me or does that photo look an awful lot like the one of the guard terrorizing detainees down in gitmo?

  22. Menyambal says

    That BBC link in 18 shows the least-scary picture from that particular incident. There were six guns pointing at that peaceful pedestrian, earlier. (American soldiers in war zones do NOT point their guns at civilians, even those of enemy nations. (They also have less armor and ammunition. ))

    There is no civil oversight of police departments and their hiring practices, training, equipping and connection to reality. (I cannot think of a word to describe their overall attitude toward civilians, race, rules and honesty.) I do know that a lot of cops talk about joining to defend their communities, which implies that there are bad people out there to fight off — protip, cops: everybody out there is part of the community, and is an American with rights, and is a human being.

    Darren Wilson seems to be from troubled homes and bad marriages, which would imply looking for a community of rules, and some resentment of blacks just because they are reputed to have troubled homes and bad marriages. I don’t say that with any surety, and certainly not to excuse anything he did — it looks to me like he was a cop for all the wrong reasons, in a bad department.

  23. brett says

    They’ve disbanded a police force in that area before, namely the police force that Darren Wilson was on before he ended up with Ferguson PD. There’s very good grounds now, including but not limited to this, for disbanding the Ferguson Police Department and rebuilding it from the ground up while under a federal consent decree limiting how and where they use force.

  24. tfkreference says

    Thanks for the clarification, Callinectes. Whether people sign up to do good could be argued, but based in personal experience (n=2), I agree. Both are great guys – one quit, partially because of the crap, and the other retired with health problems.

  25. Daniel Schealler says

    Not just fire, but blacklist; none of them should ever work in law enforcement or security in any capacity whatsoever, ever again. Any such agency that employs any of them should be subject to an immediate probe by the Federal DOJ, and face dissolution under the same conditions if the slightest irregularities are found.

    Total agreement.

    I know I shouldn’t be surprised any more. But it still amazes me that the police in Ferguson demonstrate such consistent failures of intelligence and integrity so as to do everything they can to make the situation even worse,

    It amazes me even more that they haven’t been brought into line yet.

  26. anteprepro says

    It’s like these police are fucking cartoon super villains. And yet there are too many authoritarians who will know all the shit they’ve done and STILL cheerlead for them. And there are way, way too many people who don’t know a quarter of the shit that this police department has been up to. They shouldn’t just be fired, a lot of them should facing jail time themselves. Fucking corrupt to say the fucking least.

  27. unclefrogy says

    @ 26
    I too am amazed that this has been going on for this long.
    words fail me!
    uncle frogy

  28. zmidponk says

    Of all the things that are happening there, in a way, this is the most insidious:

    The identity of the officer who handled the dog and the agency he was with remain unclear.

    This seems to indicate that what’s actually happening there is a bunch of armed fuckheads are terrorizing and showing utter contempt for the local community, whilst wearing what look like police uniforms, using what looks like police equipment and weapons, and driving what look like police vehicles, but nobody, except themselves, can actually definitively say who they are, precisely, and they don’t seem to be telling.

  29. says

    What it’s like living in a police state: police are just another armed gang, only with government backing. They don’t give a fuck about the lives of anyone except other cops, and seem to expect everyone else to share their priorities.

    For example:

    [18-year-old Joseph] Jennings was described as a “really good boy” by family members. But he also suffered from depression, anxiety, and had horrible seizures which led to him becoming suicidal.

    Two days before being shot 16 times by police, he tried to take his own life. He released the following statement on his Facebook page prior to ingesting 60 pills.

    “Tonight is the night goodbye everyone!!!!! It was truly a good ride! And I’m sorry for who I might of hurted (sic) and people that I may of offended, But I love all my family and I hope you don’t hold this against me.”
    Coincidentally, the two officers that were involved in the shooting of Jennings were also present when Jennings was taken to Ransom Memorial Hospital to be treated for the overdose, according to Jennings’ aunt, Brandy Smith.

    Only 3 hours after leaving the hospital Jennings walked to Orschein Farm & Home. Smith said he was there on a suicide mission and when she saw how officers were handling the situation she immediately tried to intervene. ”I told them it is Joseph Jennings. He is suicidal. He is upset, don’t shoot him,” she said.

    Smith’s husband also tried to stop the police from shooting him, but he was told to stop or he would be shot too.

    “My husband was going to tackle him. He was within arms reach. They said to get back or they were going to shoot him,” Smith said.

    Smith told KCTV 5, that her husband backed off and police attention turned back to Jennings.

    “The cop yelled out, ‘bag him,’ and then three shots were fired with the bags. I just don’t know how many shots were fired. They shot him in the back of the leg and the back of the shoulder,” Smith said.

    The incident is currently under investigation and yadda yadda yadda…..paid vacation.

    Ottawa Police Chief, Dennis Butler, said the officers did what they were trained to do. ”They reacted based upon the training that they’ve been given from the academy,” Butler said. “We were thankful that no officer was injured from protecting themselves from risk of great bodily harm.”

    That’s the only thing that matters to them.

  30. Menyambal says

    Does it mean anything that the policeman is straddling the dog? It could be some sort of phallic symbolism, or standard dog-control technique, or both.

    I was wondering if any fake cops got into the mix at Ferguson. There used to be wannabees who got all the gear and pretended to be policemen. These days they probably just go down to the station and get hired.

  31. psanity says

    Hm. I was at a police canine demonstration, and they explained that on-duty police dogs only pee when they are instructed to do so. That’s their training. So, it’s not a matter of the officer “letting” the dog pee on the memorial — the dog must have been released to do so by the officer. On purpose. At least , if the dog and handler are properly trained, which is normally a condition of acquiring the dog. It’s highly regulated, because of animal welfare. Seriously.

  32. jste says

    Does it mean anything that the policeman is straddling the dog? It could be some sort of phallic symbolism, or standard dog-control technique, or both.

    Looks like he’s bracing to prevent the dog doing what it’s trained to do. And possibly instructed to, given how aggressive it is in that photo. Dog looks like a German Shepard – Ever tried to hold one of those back when it decides to chase*? Police dogs are well enough trained that it’d probably back off if instructed to, so I very much think it’s a deliberate attempt to terrorize the people nearby, but they are STRONG animals.

    * Mother in law owns two badly-trained German Shepards, that I help walk on occasion.

    Ottawa Police Chief, Dennis Butler, said the officers did what they were trained to do. ”They reacted based upon the training that they’ve been given from the academy,” Butler said. “We were thankful that no officer was injured from protecting themselves from risk of great bodily harm.”

    How can a police officer who puts prevention of any injury to themself first do their job of “protect and serve” properly?

  33. Pteryxx says

    psanity #32 – some commenters on DailyKos agree with you.

    So if that K-9 unit urinated on the memorial, he was either given permission to because he really had to pee, or worse, commanded to when he really didn’t need to.

    I’m really hoping that Officer Fido had a Big Gulp before reporting to duty because frankly, my soul can’t handle that much more ugliness today.

  34. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Not a U.S. resident, so I’m ignorant, but I read that a lot of the funds that support U.S. police departments come from fines for petty offences- car lights broken, small amounts of drugs, victimless crimes…. Can’t find the source, unfortunately, but could this explain the attitude of many policemen- they want people to give them a reason to arrest them and an aggravating circumstance which will increase the fine is even better?

  35. forestdragon says

    That picture is bringing to mind those old photos of the cops siccing their dogs on Civil Rights protesters back in the day. Y’know, the same bunch of pictures that featured kids being hit by spray from fire hoses/water cannons? The more things change…

  36. =8)-DX says

    By the way, in civilized countries (like mine) it’s actually possible to fire half the police division.
    11 Czech traffic police in 70K town found accepting bribes. They were all fired and got jail time or suspended sentences and the traffic police over here have been much more professional ever since.

    Now we’ve still got lots of corruption and other problems over here, but it’s not as if firing criminal policemen and women is a *problem*. If there’s an entire police department involved, fire ‘em all.

  37. carlie says

    Not a U.S. resident, so I’m ignorant, but I read that a lot of the funds that support U.S. police departments come from fines for petty offences- car lights broken, small amounts of drugs, victimless crimes…. Can’t find the source, unfortunately, but could this explain the attitude of many policemen- they want people to give them a reason to arrest them and an aggravating circumstance which will increase the fine is even better?

    You are more correct than you even know – in Ferguson in particular, so many nuisance fines are handed out to poor (black) people who can’t afford them that there are now more active arrest warrants out for fine nonpayments than there are residents. Ferguson, with an average household income of less than 19k per year, collected more in fines last year than the neighboring town of Chesterfield, which has an average household income of over 60k.
    one of the many stories about it

    To understand some of the distrust of police that has fueled protests in Ferguson, Mo., consider this: In 2013, the municipal court in Ferguson — a city of 21,135 people — issued 32,975 arrest warrants for nonviolent offenses, mostly driving violations.

    A new report released the week after 18-year old Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson helps explain why. ArchCity Defenders, a St. Louis-area public defender group, says in its report that more than half the courts in St. Louis County engage in the “illegal and harmful practices” of charging high court fines and fees on nonviolent offenses like traffic violations — and then arresting people when they don’t pay. The report singles out courts in three communities, including Ferguson.

  38. carlie says

    And from the same piece, there’s this stunning bit: (emphasis mine)

    “And then if you can’t pay all the fines at once, they put you on a pay docket, and that just means [you] come to the court once a month and pay a certain dollar amount or explain why you haven’t paid,” Harvey says.

    But the ticket may be in a far-away court that’s not easy to get to in a region with sometimes spotty public transportation. If someone doesn’t pay, a warrant can be issued for their arrest.

    The new report says the courtroom in Ferguson gets so crowded that judges lock the doors just five minutes after court begins. Sometimes people show up late and can’t get in, so they leave. But then they’re counted as missing court, and an arrest warrant might be issued.

  39. says

    I was at a police canine demonstration, and they explained that on-duty police dogs only pee when they are instructed to do so. That’s their training. So, it’s not a matter of the officer “letting” the dog pee on the memorial — the dog must have been released to do so by the officer. On purpose.

    That was my surmise as well. I don’t know anything about police dogs, but I used to raise puppies for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Training the dogs to eliminate on command is one of the main things puppy-raisers are responsible for. I would be shocked if police dogs don’t get similarly trained.

  40. Matt Jones says

    @6 “And I have to wonder now, knowing as I do that most cops join up because they want to do good, how many are genuine pricks and how many are being forced by the higher-ups to choose between basic decency and their career.”

    Sorry, that escape hatch doesn’t work. A cop who deliberately abuses the citizenry in ways he KNOWS are wrong “to help his career” is arguably *worse*.

  41. lakitha tolbert says

    @43: And I’m going to add that it doesn’t matter how decent a cop thinks he is. In the case where a man was charged for destruction of property for bleeding on the uniforms of the four officers that beat him bloody, it doesn’t matter whether any one of those cops was decent now or in the past. They either participated in the beating or just stood by and watched it and did nothing.

    Thsi is definitely an Edmund Burke situation, I think:http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/2298.html

  42. Pteryxx says

    Well, I now see another argument for increasing diversity such that police forces have more than just three or four black officers. (St Louis Post-Dispatch cover image)

    If one of them wants or needs to turn whistleblower, the other officers won’t know which one to punish.

  43. Silentbob says

    Have you all seen this (via Mano’s blog)? Witness video of police shooting dead a mentally disturbed shoplifter. Un-fucking-believable.

  44. Pteryxx says

    Crossposting from the Good Morning America thread:

    Cracked just posted an excellent Ferguson overview that referenced Frank Serpico, a whistleblower who exposed corruption in the NYPD in 1967-72.

    From the Knapp Commission’s report, summarized by Wikipedia:

    The Knapp Commission Report on Police Corruption identified two particular classes of corrupt police officer, which it called “Grass Eaters” and “Meat Eaters”. This classification refers to petty corruption under peer pressure (“eating grass”) and aggressive premeditated major corruption (“eating meat”).

    The term “Grass Eaters” is used to describe police officers who “accept gratuities and solicit five, ten, twenty dollar payments from contractors, tow-truck operators, gamblers, and the like but do not pursue corruption payments.” ‘Grass eating’ is something that a significant number of officers are guilty of, but which they learned to do so from other cops or from imitating the deviants they watch and investigate every day. The commission even concluded that ‘grass eating’ was used by police officers in New York City to prove their loyalty to the brotherhood, and with that came incentives like side jobs. One method of preventing cops from becoming corrupt is to eliminate this step by removing veteran cops who do this, without any veteran cops to learn this from, new officers might decide to never ‘eat grass’.

    “Meat Eaters” are officers who “spend a good deal of time aggressively looking for situations they can exploit for financial gain.” An example of this is shaking down pimps and illicit drug dealers for money, not only for the material profit to the officers, but for the relief from guilt that the officers derive by convincing themselves that their victims deserve such treatment. They justify taking advantage of these kinds of criminals because they are considered the dregs of society.”

    From a 2010 NY Times article on Serpico: (NY Times)

    This is the man whose long and loud complaining about widespread corruption in the New York Police Department made him a pariah on the force. The patrolman shot in the face during a 1971 drug bust while screaming for backup from his fellow officers, who then failed to immediately call for an ambulance. The undaunted whistle-blower whose testimony was the centerpiece of the Knapp Commission hearings, which sparked the biggest shakeup in the history of the department.

    and from the wiki on Serpico himself: (Wikipedia)

    In October, and again in December 1971, Serpico testified before the Knapp Commission:[7]

    “ Through my appearance here today… I hope that police officers in the future will not experience… the same frustration and anxiety that I was subjected to… for the past five years at the hands of my superiors… because of my attempt to report corruption. I was made to feel that I had burdened them with an unwanted task. The problem is that the atmosphere does not yet exist… in which an honest police officer can act… without fear of ridicule or reprisal from fellow officers. Police corruption cannot exist unless it is at least tolerated…at higher levels in the department. Therefore, the most important result that can come from these hearings… is a conviction by police officers that the department will change. In order to ensure this… an independent, permanent investigative body… dealing with police corruption, like this commission, is essential..

    […]

    Frank Serpico retired on June 15, 1972, one month after receiving the New York City Police Department’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor. There was no ceremony; according to Serpico, it was simply handed to him over the desk “like a pack of cigarettes”.[9]

  45. pwuk says

    Didn’t you Yanks once fight a war (of somesort) against us Brits to rid yourselves of this kind of tyranny ?

  46. Konradius says

    @pwuk:
    That’s similar to my reaction. That racist, thug police force should fly the confederate flag. You know they want to, and the ‘good guys’ there should have quit in protest long ago.
    And yes, that is a comment from privilege. But the ones still there should be made to feel like the nazi collaborators that they are.

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